I’m not a particularly competitive person, let alone a competitive athlete. My dream car before I threw that whole idea out the window was a Subaru Outback. It’s a station wagon, and I was dreaming of it at age 20. My dreams have moved on to bikes for all the reasons we are well aware of, but falling in love with a bicycle didn’t mean my personality did a 180 and all my values and interests changed.
When I was an angsty teenager and I was freaking out about my whole life collapsing because some girl broke my heart or I thought I might fail a math test, I always just reminded myself, “It’s alright. If your life goes to hell in a handbasket, you can just pack your stuff up and go live in some shack in the woods.” Seriously. I was that kid, and there are pictures to prove it. No, I am not publishing them on the blog.
I don’t think I had any grasp of what living in a shack in the woods would actually constitute, and the fact that there were no Taco Bells in a 80 mile radius probably would have meant my chances for survival were virtually nil, but I still had in me the idea that a retreat from from stress was a retreat from suburban life, with all its impersonal commercialism and the weight of the vast machine on your shoulders threatening to crush you.
I say all this to explain how I’m really the same person, only better, because of the bicycle. My fallback plan now involves putting all my gear and a good book or two in some panniers and just taking off. Because of this I have a real affinity for the people who are out there actually doing just that. For me, they’re living the dream. Sure, I’ve done some tours, and I hope to do the Trans-America at some point in my life. But there are a some out there with even bigger goals, and they’re attaining them.
Last week I sent out a pack of stickers and patches to some folks from Alaska who’ve dubbed themselves Que Hubo. They’re starting their trip in just a week by boarding a ferry that will take them to Washington State where they’ll begin their journey to Colombia.
Another group I’m quite fond of is We Keep Going, two guys who rode as part of the sponsored 42 Below “We Like Bike” tour and then decided they didn’t want to stop. I found them when their photos popped up on the Zero Per Gallon Flickr Group–they’ve been rocking ZPG all the way, and we didn’t pay them a cent. They’re sharing the message because they realize they own the brand as much as I do, as much as we all do. I checked with them on their progress and to get permission to use the photo, and it turns out they’re stopped for a bit in Mexico–helping teach English to the kids and thinking about setting up a Hostel with a friend. Sweet.
Yet another of those I’m following closely is Family On Bikes, a family of four who were living the “American Dream,” until they decided they had their own dreams. They packed up what belongings they needed, and began the journey with their two boys pedaling alongside, heading to South America, where they are now.
There are thousands of others across the continent riding their bikes somewhere, or nowhere in particular. This freedom, more than anything, is what I think this company stands for, and it believes in. Whether you’re riding in the Tour de France or pedaling a few miles to work, that grin on your face, even if it’s tucked away behind a grimace, is the same one that keeps our touring friends moving their legs in circles to a cadence all their own.